Yoga Accessories (Beyond The Mat), According to Top Instructors

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Yogawith its emphasis on elongating muscles and core conditioningis perhaps summer's best workout for a lithe, sculpted body. And it's made even better when some of the best yoga accessories are incorporated. While you don't need a lot of fancy equipment to execute your asanas, the right mat and accessories can greatly increase your comfort, alignment, and motivationthus elevating your practice along the way.

Brooklyn-based yoga and SoulCycle instructor Eve Lynn Churst, for example, finds that a well-designed mat gives her the flexibility to explore different positions and reduces the risk for injury. Good mats support our practice, she says. They allow us a cushion to fall on, some grip to hold onto, and a boundary to work within. And that, she adds, helps her move in the ways my body wants to, without the worry of hurting anything.

Beyond the mat, other gear helps undo tension and prep you for a workout. Below, the best yoga accessories and gear to use before, during, and after your yoga sessions to take your practice to the next level of effectiveness.

Pre-Yoga Warm-Up

Focus your attention inwardunwind your mind, warm up your muscles, and inhale a refreshing mist to energize your body. To bend deeper into her svanasana and triangle poses, Los Angelesbased Tonal coach Frances Flores often warms up with her Theragun Prime. If I need to wake up my muscles or work out some tightness, it's my favorite thing, she says of the handheld pulsating massage tool.

Theragun Prime

Vanessa Chu, founder of Stretch'd studios in New York, is partial to gentle backbends over a yoga ring. It's a great way to open up the spine before practicing yoga. We spend most of our day rounded forward, so it's a nice way to help decompress the spine, open up the chest, and undo the typical desk-sitting posture.

During Yoga: Mats for Every Need

For grip and comfort, Chelsea Jackson Roberts, a yoga instructor with Peloton, is loyal to Manduka's six-millimeter-thick Pro Yoga Mat. This is the mat I've had the longest and has served me wellit provides the cushion you need to stay grounded in standing balancing postures.

Manduka Pro yoga mat 6mm

Roberts often flies with Lululemon's carry-on mat, which is lightweight and can easily be folded to fit in a duffle, backpack, or suitcase.

Lululemon Carry Onwards travel mat

Equinox+ yoga instructor Sho Higuchi is a fan of Liforme's moisture-absorbing surfaces, especially for hot-yoga sessions. If you've ever felt the frustration of slipping on a mat, try this oneit offers the best grip for a sweaty practice, he says.

Liforme yoga mat

Black Mat Yoga founder Eric Mosley likes Toned by Baggedem's suede options, which center on Black women and men with uplifting affirmations.

BaggedEm In My Zen yoga mat

Fitness and yoga coach Annabelle Lemes appreciates a cushy, oversized mat, similar to those by Gorilla, when I do yoga outside on the grass or even on a dock.

Gorilla Mats premium large yoga mat

New York yoga trainer Sarah Otey, who in a normal (non-pandemic) year travels up to five months, prefers to pack Nuprava's microsuede mats. They're great for the beach and machine washable.

Nuprava the Unity mat

To really elongate her poses, Sky Ting cofounder Krissy Jones is fond of JadeYoga's 80-inch-length mat. It's extra long, wide, and thick perfect for tall people!

During Yoga: Essentials That Round Out Your Practice

Whether you're just starting out or looking to master more challenging poses, the right accessoriessuch as straps, blocks, bolsters, and a multitasking towelcan bridge any gaps in your form, strengthen your muscles, and keep you grounded. To boost stability during sessions, Nicci Micco, a Burlington, Vermontbased instructor, is a huge fan of blocksto slip under various parts of the body in ways that help create more space for our breath to flow. Her go- to Hugger Mugger cork blocks have rounded edges and just the right amount of heftsturdy enough that you feel fully supported but light enough to carry back and forth to class.

Hugger Mugger cork yoga block

Yoga straps, wedges, and bolsters can also increase range of motionand a moisture-wicking towel is the most versatile (and portable) accessory of all, says Chu. She uses a Lululemon microfiber one for dabbing sweat, cradling her forehead, and for extra padding underneath my knee to protect the joint for lunges or other weight-bearing positions.

Post-Yoga Cooldown and Meditation

Think cleansing and calming: Wipe down your mat with an antibacterial spray, rehydrate and rejuvenate your body, and settle into a seated meditation to set your intention for the rest of the day. Post-yoga, Flores rolls over sore muscles with Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls for a targeted deep-tissue massage.

Yoga Tune Up Jill Miller's therapy balls

Micco is obsessed with Samadhi's Zafu cushion for calming seated meditations. It's filled with buckwheat hull, which is both firm and flexible, she says.

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